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Optimum contribution selection for conserved populations with historic migration

Robin Wellmann*, Sonja Hartwig and Jörn Bennewitz

Author Affiliations

Institute of Animal Husbandry and Animal Breeding, University of Hohenheim, D-70599 Stuttgart, Germany

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Genetics Selection Evolution 2012, 44:34  doi:10.1186/1297-9686-44-34

Published: 15 November 2012



In recent decades, local varieties of domesticated animal species have been frequently crossed with economically superior breeds which has resulted in considerable genetic contributions from migrants. Optimum contribution selection by maximizing gene diversity while constraining breeding values of the offspring or vice versa could eventually lead to the extinction of local breeds with historic migration because maximization of gene diversity or breeding values would be achieved by maximization of migrant contributions. Therefore, other objective functions are needed for these breeds.


Different objective functions and side constraints were compared with respect to their ability to reduce migrant contributions, to increase the genome equivalents originating from native founders, and to conserve gene diversity. Additionally, a new method for monitoring the development of effective size for breeds with incomplete pedigree records was applied. Approaches were compared for Vorderwald cattle, Hinterwald cattle, and Limpurg cattle. Migrant contributions could be substantially decreased for these three breeds, but the potential to increase the native genome equivalents is limited.


The most promising approach was constraining migrant contributions while maximizing the conditional probability that two alleles randomly chosen from the offspring population are not identical by descent, given that both descend from native founders.